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21 May 2013: The Naval Career of Chang Man Ying, Royal Navy.

posted 22 May 2013, 23:17 by John Leighton

 We are very fortunate to have an informal evening with retired Petty Officer Steward Chang Man Ying, Royal Navy. Mr Chang joined the Royal Navy in Hong Kong in 1947 and is veteran of the Yangtze incident on HMS Black Swan, the Malayan Emergency, the Korean War and the Borneo conflict.

 

Mr Chang is the holder of the Naval General service Medal and two clasps (Yangtze & Malaya), Queen’s & UN Korea Medals, Campaign Service Medal for Borneo and the Naval Long Service Medal.

 

On 20 April 1949, HMS Amethyst steamed up the Yangtze River to relieve the guard ship HMS Consort at Nanking, preparing to evacuate British and Commonwealth citizens caught up in the advance of the Chinese Communist Forces. At about 0830 hours, Amethyst came under fire from Communist shore batteries positioned on the north shore of the river opposite Low Island. Amethyst was hit again by several shells wounding Amethyst's Commanding officer, who died from his injuries a day later. The ship managed to send off a signal to all ships in the area, "Under heavy fire, am aground, large number of casualties". Amethyst received over 50 hits and holes below the waterline. During this time HMS Consort was sighted, flying 7 White Ensigns and 3 Union Jack flags, steaming down from Nanking at an incredible 29 Knots. Consort came under fire from the shore batteries but her 4.5-inch guns managed to knock out the enemy shore batteries and she attempted to take Amethyst in tow. HMS Consort  turned about with all guns blazing at the north bank batteries, destroying an enemy position. As she steamed up river for the second time she was fired on by a concentrated number of 37mm anti-tank guns.

She had taken 56 hits and lost 9 killed and 30 wounded. On the 26th of April, after being aground for six days and in the dead of night, a second attempt to free the Amethyst from the mud was successful after she had been lightened forward. She then proceeded to move up river and anchored off Fu Te Wei. Later that day a signal was received: "HM ships London and Black Swan are moving up river to escort the Amethyst down stream. Be ready to move." But concentrated fire from batteries near Bate Point hit both ships; HMS London was holed 12 times on the port side and lost 12 killed and 20 wounded. HMS Black Swan had 7 wounded. Reluctantly the order was given for both ships to return down river. Finally Lt. Cdr. Kerans decided to make a break for open waters. On July 31st under cover of darkness, Amethyst slipped her cable and proceeded down stream to begin a 104-mile dash for freedom running the gauntlet of Communist guns on both banks of the river.The Amethyst, at full speed ahead, passed through to the mouth of the river and made contact with HMS Concord and sent the time-honoured signal. "Have rejoined the fleet off Woosung...God save the King."

 

In an informal setting Mr Chang will share his experiences in the Royal Navy as a locally enlisted seaman as well his recollections of the Yangtze Incident. Mr Chang’s medals, which are probably unique, will be on display.

 

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